Summer lessons

August 18, 2006 at 10:39 pm 29 comments

Every year, I take advantage of our slack schedule in the summer during school break to teach my children something new.  No, I don’t teach them Science, Math, or Social Studies lessons.  I teach them life lessons – how to do chores and how to become more independent. 

Like for instance, I think it was during a summer break when I toilet trained each one of them.  This summer, I taught Ryland, my eight-year old son, how to give himself a bath.  I know.  It’s kinda late for him to be learning that just now.  But he’s the youngest.  He’s my baby.  Now, if I could only make him wipe himself after he uses the toilet.  I’ve already shown him how to do it and I know he would if I don’t come to the rescue, but he still calls me to do that yucky chore.  

It was also during a school break when I started teaching my oldest son, Reggie, how to read Tagalog (the Philippine language).  I asked a cousin in the Philippines to buy and send me this Tagalog alphabet book and I taught Reggie how to read the a-ba-ka-da (abc’s).  I was so happy when he started reading sentences in Tagalog.  But hold your breath there.  He held that book only as long as summer lasted that year and didn’t really apply what he learned.  For when he went back to school that Fall, he had to learn French.  So the Tagalog lessons took a back seat. 

It was summer three years ago when I got a little more serious in teaching not just Reggie, but also my middle son, Ryan, how to speak Tagalog (read here the reason why and how it went) so we had this “Word of the Day” lessons and I tested them at the end of every week.  Well, we had more success in that method.  Even though they understand me talking to them in Tagalog, they still answer me in English.  But I’ll take that.  It’s still progress, right?  And if you think they completely understand Tagalog, not really.  But I’m still on that quest.  So whenever I catch myself talking to them mostly in English, I’d revert to Tagalog and if they don’t understand, I’d translate what I just said in English.  This is the method I now use with my youngest son.   

Here’s an example: 

“Ryland pagkatapos mong kumain, walisin mo ang sahig, please, okay?” 

“What did you say, Mommy?” 

“When you’re done eating, can you please sweep the floor?” 


“And then iligpit mo yung kalat mo duon sa sala.  Naintindihan mo ako?” * 

“Clean my mess.  What’s sala again?” 

“The living room.” 

“Oh, yeah.” 

Since hired house help is basically non-existent in this part of the world, or if there is any around we wouldn’t be able to afford it, I give my children chores.  I think it’s important that they help around the house, not just to help me, but also to teach them how to be responsible.  (You can read more about my take on Children and Chores here.)   

It’s also in the summer when I introduce them to new chores.  Ryland learned how to wash the dishes last year.  This year I taught him how to dust the furniture.  Maybe next year, I’ll teach him how to cook rice. 

Reggie, who’s 16, already knows how to fry meat and how to cook adobo.  A few weeks ago, I showed him how to and let him stir fry vegetables.  So one night, I was swamped with work and I gave him instructions on how to sauté the garlic, onion, tomato and then add the pork and diced potatoes.  I thought it all went well.  We were already about to eat when I noticed that he didn’t cut up all the tomatoes.  He left the seeds in the cutting board.  “Reggie, this is what gives taste to that dish.”  Oh, well, how can you get mad when he did try to help.   

Last week, I asked him to scramble some eggs.  “You’ve seen me scramble eggs before, right?”  I asked him.  “Just put some oil in the pan and cook it.”  Nothing could go wrong with that, I thought.  When I went downstairs, Ryland said, “Mommy, Kuya** burned the egg.”  One look at the yellow-brownish thing on the plate and I knew that he had the pan too hot.  “It’s okay,” I told my youngest son.  “It’s just the colour.  It’s not really burned.”  It did taste like it was burned and I forgot to tell him to put a pinch of salt.  But hey, we all have burnt something, right?  And that’s how we learn, from our mistakes.

* Naintindihan mo ako? = Did you understand me?

** Kuya = what we call an older brother


Entry filed under: Raising the 3Rs.

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29 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Arthur  |  August 19, 2006 at 2:39 am

    I remember using the same book in learning Filipino during my Kindergarten days. Lol! It’s so cute teaching your children the Filipino language even if they won’t be able to use it most of the time. Filipino is a beautiful language.

    You have wonderful children. They learn fast at such a young age. I started washing the dishes at the age of 13. And until now, I don’t know how to cook Adobo. Haha! Mind you, I still burn some things at this age. Haha!

  • 2. ladybug  |  August 19, 2006 at 2:53 am

    That’s true…we learn from our mistakes. I take my hats off to you for raising your kids the right way. 🙂

  • 3. mmy-lei  |  August 19, 2006 at 4:09 am

    I really admire you the way you handle your kids! Teaching them at an early age is a right decision. I regret that i didnt listen to my mom about cooking. Until now, i dont know how to cook adobo!

  • 4. Tracy  |  August 19, 2006 at 9:08 am

    cute naman. kaya lang baka mapaso sa pagluluto.

  • 5. niceheart  |  August 19, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    Arthur, children do learn fast. My parents taught me to wash the dishes at around 8, I think. And they made me help around the house although we had helpers. So that’s how I want to raise my kids too.

    Thanks ladybug, I’m sure other parents are also raising their kids the same way.

  • 6. niceheart  |  August 19, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks, mmy-lei. It’s never too late to learn how to cook. 🙂

    Hi Tracy. Hindi naman napapaso. 🙂 He’s old enough naman na eh. Pero minsan natatalsikan siya ng mantika kapag nagpiprito. Ako rin naman. 🙂

  • 7. KD  |  August 20, 2006 at 1:26 am

    Naging expert ako sa pagluluto ng scrambled egg dahil sa pagtuturo ng nanay ko, she also taught me how to wash the dishes, iron clothes, make tahi to my clothes. Your kids will sureyi thank you for teaching them household chores.
    Bloghopped from wisheart ann’s blog =D

  • 8. Toe  |  August 20, 2006 at 2:47 am

    Niceheart, it’s good that you make an effort to teach your kids Tagalog. Language would give them a sense of identity of who they are and where they come from. Reggie can beat me in cooking. 🙂

  • 9. eric  |  August 20, 2006 at 3:48 am

    Oh that is great what you’re doing, Irene. Mom did that to all of us as well — even taught us to saw, iron clothes and etc. And guess what? All of us learned to be self-sufficient, especially when we lived abroad.

  • 10. haze  |  August 20, 2006 at 4:39 am

    Hi Niceheart, it’s nice of you to hopped on my site and I thank you for that. I remember my mother when we were kids she taught us how to do chores at home when we were kids. She has given us a small task to do everyday even we have our helper at home. WHY? because her main reason is that we need to learn things little by little so then growing up facing other & bigger responsibilities aren’t going to be difficult to handle later on!

    If you don’t mind can I link you up? Please tag me for confirmation. I really like your site coz I am sure that I would learn many things from here. Thank you very much and have a nice and enjoyable summer.

  • 11. ipanema  |  August 20, 2006 at 5:34 am

    My children’s Tagalog is improving but I’m not so sure of their writing skills. Once, my eldest recevied a text message from a cousin in the Phils and it was Taglish. He kept on asking for spelling of some words, trying his best to answer in Tagalog. But children learn languages fast than adults.

    It’s good training children that age. My teenage boys are into ironing clothes. Giving them timetable from simple household chores would help.

  • 12. Major Tom  |  August 20, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    I had always mean to do this, teaching the kids to do house chores for when I was young, I had a lot of house duties when we were living with a grandaunt. This way, it teaches the kids early about the meaning of responsibility and duty, as well as sublime feeling of being useful rather than being useless.

    Usually, I had to be so “angry” for them to even hold a broom but lately, I’ve noticed that when they see their mom dashing the items in the sala, they go forth and mimic their mother. That’s a great improvement for them,,,but it still a long way from cooking. But I can be patient.

  • 13. earthember  |  August 20, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    Life lessons are more important than any other lessons in school. I’m impressed with your method.

    I’ve been wanting to teach my girls to cook, but they’re still afraid of the hot pan. As for chores, they’re getting a little better.

  • 14. niceheart  |  August 20, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    Hi KD, so I guess with a little more tries and he’ll also be an expert in cooking scrambled eggs. 🙂

    Toe, that’s also one of the reasons I want them to learn Tagalog. To give them a sense of their Filipino identity. And I also try to expose them to our cultural background. Watch out for my next post. I don’t know if Reggie can beat you in cooking, though. He still has a long way to go. 🙂

  • 15. niceheart  |  August 20, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    Eric, my mother also taught us how to do the things you mentioned which I guess helped me and my sister to cope easily when my parents separated and she would leave us alone while she worked. My sister and I were independent and living by ourselves when I was 17.

  • 16. niceheart  |  August 20, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    Haze, thank you for the visit. My mother also taught us how to do chores even when we still had house help. And yeah, I think it’s important to teach responsibilities to children.

    Yes, you can link me up. Thank you. I’ve also added you to my blogroll.

  • 17. niceheart  |  August 20, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for the visit as well, Ipanema. I agree, children learn language faster than adults. I’ve been here in Canada for almost 17 years and I haven’t really learned French, the other official language, that much. They are the ones correcting me with the pronunciation. 🙂 Wow! you also have teenage boys. Timetable is a good guide for kids. We have a chores list posted on our fridge door.

  • 18. niceheart  |  August 20, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    Major Tom, kids enjoy mimicking their parents. That’s why I think it’s better to start teaching them chores at an early age. And what I noticed with my kids, when they were younger and let’s say they did their bed by themselves, they’re proud of that.

    I think your kids are still small to be cooking. I don’t rush giving my kids chores that they are not yet ready for. 🙂

  • 19. niceheart  |  August 20, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks, Ange. I agree that life lessons are more important than any other lessons in school. As I’ve said to Major Tom, I don’t think we have to rush teaching kids chores that they are not yet ready to do. We can be patient. 🙂

  • 20. ann  |  August 21, 2006 at 2:57 am

    My eldest was only excited within the first two weeks of our lesson in the kitchen, after that she had many excuses.

    I stayed with my youngest in school for more than 3 weeks because he can’t even wash himself after using the toilet. I’m trying to teach him but the problem is that he has a big tummy and his hand can’t reach his butt. Until his kuya volunteered to do the washing, that’s why I’m back to blogging..hehehe.

  • 21. ipanema  |  August 21, 2006 at 6:32 am

    That’s perfectly alright when learning a new language. It’s better to practice with locals. Yes, I have teenage boys. I can rely more on the youngest. Even if we have househelp they each have their own household chores.

  • 22. Hsin  |  August 21, 2006 at 9:29 am

    You’re very systematic in teaching your kids. I’m still very haphazard about teaching Sara stuff. Of course, she’s much much younger, but still, I do a pretty miserable job at anything I do attempt to teach. I’m going to start her on Mandarin though – we don’t speak it at home, but since she’s at a young enough age, it’s the best time to work on languages with her. So now Danny and I have to grit our teeth and brush up our Mandarin so that we can teach it to her and Nathan.

  • 23. sesame  |  August 21, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    It’s good that you teach them how to be independent. It’s an important lifeskill for them. Usually as parents, we tend to be over protective and as a result the kids become reliant on us for too many things.

    The pix of your boy standing on the stool washing the dishes (?) remind me of myself at 7 years old. I used to enjoy helping my mum do those dishes but of course, got lazier when I grew older.

  • 24. niceheart  |  August 21, 2006 at 10:52 pm

    Ann, when my oldest learned how to bake in school, he was also excited and even asked me to buy ingredients and he made us pizzas, cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies, but just like your daughter, the excitement wore off.

    My youngest one also calls his kuya sometimes to wash his bum when I’m busy, or when I can’t hear him calling me. Or maybe I’m just pretending I didn’t hear. 🙂

  • 25. niceheart  |  August 21, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    Ipanema, I live in a mostly English-speaking community that’s why I never really had the need to learn French. But French is included in my kid’s curriculum so they do have to learn it. 🙂

  • 26. niceheart  |  August 21, 2006 at 11:04 pm

    Hsin, I think it’s better to start now if you want her to learn Mandarin. And I guess you and Danny have to speak it regularly so that she could catch on.

    I also wish I had been firmer with talking in Tagalog to my kids when they were a lot younger so that they wouldn’t have forgotten it.

  • 27. niceheart  |  August 21, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    Sesame, it’s true that we parents tend to be over-protective. Please excuse me if I once again quote Dr. Phil. He says that “we are raising adults, not children.” Very true. We should be raising them to be independent in preparation for their adulthood.

  • 28. Karen  |  August 26, 2006 at 11:29 pm

    wow i think i’ve used that book…or maybe my siblings did? hindi ko na maalala. but seeing that book made me warm and fuzzy inside. childhood memories ;).

  • 29. niceheart  |  August 27, 2006 at 8:31 pm

    Karen, this is also the book I used when I was still learning to read. You know what? Raising children brings up many childhood memories.


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